UPDATE: CCLA and ETFO sex-ed legal challenges to be…

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — TORONTO, ON — The Divisional Court determined the other week that the applications of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario will be heard together. CCLA had originally secured a date of Sept. 24, 2018 for a hearing before the Divisional Court, but now both applications will be heard in November.

The Court has given us a full-day hearing before a panel of three judges. Both CCLA’s and ETFO’s applications will be heard on November 23. The new schedule leading up to the hearing is as follows:

  • CCLA materials were filed on August 23.
  • ETFO materials served by October 5.
  • Attorney General’s responding affidavit materials in both cases to be filed by November 5.
  • Any cross examinations will during the weeks of November 5 or November 12.
  • Applicants’ factums in both cases to be delivered on or by November 14 (seven days before the hearing).
  • Respondent’s factum(s) in both applications to be delivered on or by November 19 (four days before the hearing).
  • A full day hearing takes place on November 23.


To answer some of your most pressing questions, we’ve put together a new YouTube video with Cara Zwibel, CCLA’s Director of Fundamental Freedoms. Below, she talks about why we are taking on this legal challenge, what the legal grounds are and more. Watch it below!


CCLA, INCLO and others welcome historic win against mass…

In a landmark win for seven INCLO members, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that the United Kingdom’s bulk surveillance practices violate privacy and freedom of expression.

Lead by Liberty UK, seven INCLO members, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, joined a coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Strasbourg, France to challenge the legality of British and U.S. intelligence agencies intercepting private communications in bulk, and sharing this data through intelligence sharing agreements.

We began our challenge after Edward Snowden’s courageous 2013 revelations of the full extent governments are willing to spy on us without reasonable suspicion.

Today, we celebrate the court’s historic findings that the U.K.’s system of communications interception was an unlawful breach of privacy. The U.K.’s regime for authorizing mass interception was ruled incapable of keeping their privacy “interference” to what is “necessary in a democratic society.”

The Court also agreed with our arguments that mass interception of metadata—the “who” “when” “where” and “how” information that is part of every electronic message—is just as intrusive as intercepting content information.

The Court noted that while each piece of data reveals details, “In bulk, the degree of intrusion is magnified, since the patterns that will emerge could be capable of painting an intimate picture of a person through the mapping of social networks, location tracking, Internet browsing tracking, mapping of communication patterns, and insight into who a person interacted with.”

“CCLA is proud to share this victory for privacy and free expression rights with our colleagues around the world,” says CCLA’s executive director Michael Bryant. “Today’s decision at the ECtHR confirms that mass surveillance is incompatible with fundamental rights that are at the heart of strong democracies.”

The INCLO members that joined a coalition of NGOs included:

  • Liberty UK, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), Legal Resources Centre South Africa (LRC).


What this means for Canada

Although the Liberty UK case addressed activities in the United Kingdom, this is “a global issue that affects every nation and every person who communicates online,” Bryant notes.

Many of the undersea cables carrying the world’s internet traffic route through the U.K., which makes it inevitable that communications originating in Canada are frequently caught up in U.K. mass surveillance activities.

Further, Canada is a participant in intelligence sharing activities with the U.K., the U.S. and others as a member of the Five Eyes Intelligence alliance.

Not only are Canadians affected by the problem of mass surveillance, but we need to pay attention to this ruling at home.

With Bill C-59, Canada’s proposed new national security legislation currently at the Senate, our government needs to look carefully at the provisions in that law which facilitate mass surveillance to ensure that our laws uphold the vital privacy and free expression principles enshrined in this decision.


More information

Read the case: Case of Big Brother Watch and others vs. United Kingdom

Explainer from Privacy International, our partner in litigation: UK mass interception law violates human rights

INCLO report: Unanswered Questions – International Intelligence Sharing

CCLA joins coalition calling for Ontario government to reinstate…

TORONTO, ON (July 16, 2018) — March for Our Education, Leadnow and the undersigned are unswayed by the Minister of Education’s response to the groundswell of Ontarians who are outraged that this government would deprive students of the fact-based 2015 sex-education curriculum. The groups, who are calling for the Ontario government to reinstate the newer sex education, claim the minister’s minimal comments claiming the curriculum will teach “consent, cyberbullying and gender” disregards Ontario students and concerned citizens because they have not explained where this information will come from, since they still plan to use the 1998 pre-texting-era curriculum.

The 2015 sex-education curriculum was developed over four years by experts in child development and internet safety, police, and social workers, in consultation with parents, to provide students with thorough information to make safe choices and learn about consent, acceptance of difference and more.

“We the students don’t accept Minister Thompson’s comments. They are confusing because without showing any real plan, her words don’t mean anything,” said Toronto high school student and March for Our Education organizer Frank Hong. “If they’re still using the 1998 curriculum, how will the Ontario government whip something up that appropriately teaches us these important topics before we go back to school in six weeks? Until the 2015 sex-ed curriculum is put back, we’re not backing down.”

March for Our Education is a rally and march organized by high school students and supported by advocacy groups to protest the Ontario government repealing the 2015 fact-based sex-ed curriculum and is happening at 11 AM on Saturday, July 21 at Queen’s Park.

“The Doug Ford government just blinked,” said Leadnow campaigner Rachel Nelems. “They’ve shown Ontarians that if enough of us speak up, they’ll listen — but the minister’s comments only light a fire. We’re not stopping until the Ontario government provides students with a lesson plan that treats these essential issues with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association also indicated that any effort by the Ontario Government to censor sex-education content on the basis of gender or sexual orientation will attract a legal challenge and it would send lawyers to prevent it, if needed, as the organization has done to protect civil liberties in Canada for over 50 years.

March for Our Education, Leadnow and the undersigned are calling on the Ontario government to immediately reinstate the 2015 sex-education curriculum, so no student is left unsafe. Until that is done, the coalition of groups will continue to advocate for the fact-based education Ontario’s students deserve.

Signed by:

Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
Canadian Civil Liberties Association
CUPE Ontario
March for Our Education
Women’s March Canada


Media contacts:

Frank Hong
Student organizer, March for Our Education

Rachel Nelems
Campaigner at Leadnow

Premier Ford’s back-to-work legislation will violate civil liberties, hurt…


TORONTO, ON –The Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario have joined with striking workers at York University to voice their opposition to the new Conservative government’s “back-to-work” legislation.

“Our members went on strike more than four months ago because we were experiencing firsthand how the quality of education at York was degenerating. We believed York would bargain with us to help find solutions to improve the quality of education we provide, but they have essentially refused,” said Devin Lefebvre, Chairperson of CUPE 3903. “This legislation gives York exactly what they’ve wanted from the beginning and it absolves them from having to take responsibility for the quality of education the university provides. This is not good for students.”

“The right to meaningful collective bargaining and the right to strike are not political punching bags. They’re constitutional rights,” said Michael Bryant, Executive Director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA). “These rights are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to ensure dignity and fairness for workers.  As the federal government found out with the Canada Post case, back-to-work legislation will be closely monitored by the courts.”

Compared to all other provinces, Ontario universities receive the lowest per student government funding. Chronic underfunding of colleges and universities has led to a significant increase in the use of precarious labour on Ontario campuses. Sixty percent of the teaching at York is now done by teaching assistants, graduate students and contract faculty – the members of CUPE 3903.

“Universities and colleges are not just institutions for learning, but are places of employment for thousands of workers,” said Nour Alideeb, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. “Job security, adequate graduate funding and equity protections for the most vulnerable are fundamental to delivering high quality education. Protecting students means investing in education, not stripping away the rights of the workers that students depend on.”

“The Ford government’s disregard for workers’ rights and quality education is exposed in today’s ‘back-to-work’ legislation,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “These workers have been bravely fighting to improve the quality of education at York and will continue to do whatever they can to push for improvements, even if the legislation passes. The consequences of this reckless legislation will be felt in classrooms.”

CUPE 3903 represents more than 3,000 teaching assistants, contract faculty, graduate assistants and part-time librarians and archivists at York University. CUPE Ontario is the largest union in Ontario, representing more than 260,000 members across the province.


Contact Information:
Emily Niles, CUPE Communications, 613-263-3628 (cell) or eniles@cupe.ca
Caroline Hill, Communications Officer, CCLA, 416-646-1404 or media@ccla.org

Press Conference Details:
When: Monday, July 16, 9:00am
Where: Queen’s Park Media Studio

INCLO Report Release: Defending Dissent: State Practices that Protect…

New international report makes recommendations on how the rights to protest can be protected and promoted by governments.

(27 June 2018 — Geneva, Switzerland) The International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO) and the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School (IHRC) launched a report today that provides practical guidance on how law enforcement can protect human rights when policing protests.

Defending Dissent: Towards State Practices that Protect and Promote the Rights to Protest aims to bridge the divide between principles and practice. It offers concrete examples and analysis of existing laws, institutional mechanisms and processes, and deployment tactics that work to promote or, in some cases, undermine, protests and public assemblies. The report relies on interviews with policing experts in eight countries, and the expertise of INCLO member organizations engaged in advocacy on human rights and policing.

The publication highlights general principles, tactics and strategies through case studies of successful (and less successful) policing approaches gathered from countries around the world.

The report and its recommendations are organized around three themes: preventive measures and institutional design, tactics and the use of force, and accountability and oversight. Within these themes, the report identifies 12 core principles and 33 good practices essential for their realization.

The report offers authorities a toolkit to evaluate their existing policies, practices, and institutional mechanisms. It provides a detailed discussion on how to implement legal principles and signals the potential challenges that can be encountered in this process.

Protest and public gatherings are the only tools people have to express their grievances and to seek political, social and economic reform. Public protest and speech are quintessential to a free society, yet state policing institutions treat these as national threats, resorting to arbitrary, excessive and discriminatory force.

INCLO and IHRC report promotes an open, practical, and well-informed dialogue between states, policing institutions, civil society, human rights defenders and other stakeholders on human rights compliant policing.

INCLO is a coalition of national, human rights organizations from the North and South that act jointly to influence discussions on standard-setting and raise awareness on the proper management of assemblies.

International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School is a practice-based legal course for graduate students in law that represents clients and partners with organizations on human rights law related advocacy and research.


“Freedom of expression and assembly are the bedrock of democracy, and there are international legal standards that safeguard these rights. However, there is an absence of research and direction from a human rights perspective that provides practical guidance for the implementation and application by the state and its policing institutions of these international standards. This report aims to fill that void,” says Rob De Luca from Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), one of the main authors of the report.

“This report provides an important tool for the work of national human rights organizations. It also brings in the global perspective to the global debate and it shows that the standards for which we fight are possible and have an empirical foundation,” says Marcela Perelman, one of the main authors of the report from the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) in Argentina.

“Our hope is that the report will foster real—and much needed—dialogue between police and civil society by identifying concrete ways in which public speech and assembly can be, and sometimes are, protected by police departments. We hope to contribute to a better understanding of how the state and its security institutions should be ensuring access to this fundamental democratic right,” says the IHRC Director, Claudia Flores.


Full Report
Executive Summary


Lucila Santos — INCLO’s Program Director — lsantos@inclo.net
Claudia Flores — IHRC’s Director — cmflores@uchicago.edu